The glorious Dodge Omni

26 02 2008

Yesterday my husband and I were talking about people named “Jack”. This led to a discussion of cars that I have previously owned.

When I was fourteen, my Uncle Jack passed away. He left me a car in his will. It was a 1983 two-tone brown Dodge Omni – a fine machine for a new driver.

For those of you who actually know my mother, you will find it shocking that she actually let me drive when I was fourteen. Of course, it was in Fondulac Park in East Peoria on Sunday mornings, but she did indeed let me drive without a permit or a license several times.

Other than my Sunday morning excursions, the car sat until I was sixteen and developed some mechanical problems. Aside from the mechanical problems, it possessed some other unique qualities, such as the hole in the passenger’s side floorboard. When going over a large puddle, water would splash on to the pants of the unsuspecting passenger. Another fine feature was the tan cloth meant to cover the ceiling of the car. It hung down in billows. There was no radio, so I used a boom box.

It may sound as if I am complaining about this car that was willed to me. But, I am not. I was so grateful to have a car, as my parents could not afford to buy one for me, and until I became an adult I was known for being a spendthrift, so there was no way that I was going to be purchasing my own car. I am just trying to paint a picture for you, oh faithful reader.

My friend, Kristy and I both worked at Foster and Gallagher at this time. Every day I would pick Kristy up for school and we would ride to school and then work our 3:30 – 7:30 shift at F&G, telemarketing magazine renewals for such quality publications as Playboy, Nursing Magazine, Time and Runner’s World.

One winter day, we were going through the Hardee’s drive through when a strange noise started coming from the front right part of the car. Mechanically inclined individual that I am, I attributed it to snow in the wheel well and went about my business, driving on to school. As we left the school and headed to F&G, the noise got worse, sounding much like a helicopter as we drove upwards of 50 mph down Caterpillar Trail (N. Main Street) in East Peoria.

As I took Kristy home, the noise continued to get even worse. When we got to a stop sign at the bottom of Bloomington Road in East Peoria, I exclaimed “I’ve got to get this snow out”, and decided that the best way to do so would be to turn the steering wheel all of the way to the left and then all of the way to the left. This method would surely loosen the impacted snow.

The entire wheel promptly fell off.

My parents believe, to this day, that my estranged boyfriend came to our house in the middle of the night and loosened the lug nuts in an attempt to kill me. I would like to think that I didn’t have such poor taste in men. Faithful reader, you decide.

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